Sunday, March 2, 2014

The Bird Year 2014 Month 1 - The Frenzy in Coron part 1 - Capayas and Dipulao

I flew to Coron on January 7 for what was supposed to be a 10-day trip.  My first duty was of course to Darayonan Lodge, our family owned tourist inn.  My responsibilities as president of CATE (our tourism assoc), came next.  I scheduled a birding trip at Capayas for January 9 but work got in the way.  So it was January 10 before I was able to go birding.  

My first sortie was in our farm at Sitio Dipulao where I was able to get a docu shot of the Malkoha last December 21 near our clump of giant bamboo.  I arrived at the spot around 6:35am and as usual, I forgot my mosquito repellent. Immediately I became aware that it was very quiet.  No bird calls or chirps. After setting down my tripod and scanning the nearby trees for the Malkoha, I saw a bird on a bare branch on a tall tree somewhere on my right.  I took several shots of what turned out to be a Spotted Dove, which I believe is called "Balud" in our Cuyonon dialect.

Spotted Dove

I endured the mosquitoes for an hour before giving up on the Malkoha. By this time I began to notice some Ashy Fronted Bulbuls and could hear a couple of crows. I saw a flash of yellow and green on another clump of trees so I began to make my way to it.  While walking on a clearing between trees, a Black Naped Oriole, ("Tutulyaw" in our dialect),  landed on a bare branch in front of me.  I immediately froze, slowly lowered my tripod/camera and fired several shots. 
Black Naped Oriole aka Tutulyaw, eating a worm

The green bird that I turned out to be a Yellow Throated Leafbird.  The morning sortie also yielded an Ashy Drongo, a Hair Crested Drongo, and a pair of Olive Backed Sunbirds. 

The following day, January 11, I was at Capayas at 6:45am.  Erwin was still at his job at the slaughter house but arrived a few minutes later.  He asked me what my target for the day was, and I said, the Ruddy KF. We immediately went to the Ramon Quisumbing's,  Capayas Creek Bird Preserve and within minutes, we saw our target perched on a branch over the creek.  I took several insurance shots.  
Ruddy Kingfisher

Then I went down the slope to get closer to the bird.  I did this several times, until I was a mere 4 meters away, face to face and still the bird did not fly away. My SD card ran out of space so I had to change cards (in front of the bird) and still it did not leave.  After almost 200 shots, I was the one who gave up (hahaha).
Towards the end, we were staring at each other face to face... RKF to me:  "Haven't you taken enough shots already?"  Me:  Just a few more...

After leaving the Ruddy, we wandered around and saw a Palawan endemic, the White Vented Shama, also called "saya-saya" in our Cuyonon dialect. 
White Vented Shama or Saya-saya in Cuyonon

Then we saw a Black Naped Monarch, a bird I have yet to get a decent photo of.  But as usual, it proved elusive.  Next we saw a Blue Paradise Flycatcher and a Palawan Blue Flycatcher.  Since I did not have a decent photo of the Palawan Blue yet, I concentrated on it. 
Palawan Blue Flycatcher (male)

It was already around 10am by the time I got the Palawan Blue FC.  So we started to go back to Erwin's house.  On the way back, we saw again the Ruddy KF and and also the other resident KF of Capayas Creek, the Rufous Backed Kingfisher, alternatively known as the Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher.
Rufous Backed Kingfisher

Just before I left Erwin's house, we saw an Ashy Drongo perched near the road. It is one of my favorite Coron birds.  In Cuyonon, we call it Salang-ikog - in reference to its fish tail.  Ikog, being the Cuyonon word for tail. Salang most likely refers to the tail being split. 
Ashy Drongo aka Salang-ikog in Cuyonon

That same day, while I was downloading my photos to the computer, a friend texted me that an Indian birder was in town and wanted to go birding. Later that afternoon, I met the lady Indian birder named Aditi and we agreed to go birding on the morning of January 16.  

So I was back in Capayas a few days later. This time with Aditi and fellow Birdwatch Coron member Jelyn Libunao.  Erwin as usual accompanied us.  We went to Capayas Creek and again, the first bird we saw was ol' Ruddy.  He did not stay in one perch this time but we still got plenty of keepers.  Sharing one of my favorites.  
Ruddy Kingfisher

Aditi had a flight later that day and had to be back at her hotel by 11am.  So this was going to be some sort of blitz birding.  Still we saw a lot (as one usually does when being guided by birdguide Erwin's x-ray vision) - all the usual Capayas suspects plus a few surprises like a Blue Naped Parrot, popularly known as Pikoy in Cuyonon. 
Blue Naped Parrot, popularly known as Pikoy in Cuyonon

And this Chestnut Breasted Malkoha, known as "Manok-manok" in Cuyonon. 
Chestnut Breasted Malkoha, also known as Manok-manok in Cuyonon.  

In the same area, we also saw a Grey Wagtail, Lovely Sunbird, Plaintive Cuckoo (lifer) and Crested Goshawk.  The last four birds I mentioned, together with the Blue Naped Parrot appeared at the same time and an ecstatic Aditi did not know where to point her binoculars.  

As it was already 10:30 by the time we saw the Parrot.  We decided to call it a day but before we left Capayas, we paused for a couple of shots. This one shows Aditi, Erwin and me. 

All in all my first three birding sorties in Coron have all been productive.  Having gained momentum, I decided to visit our property again in Dipulao that same afternoon.  I basically dipped but saw a Lesser Coucal to add to my BY2014 list.  The following morning, January 17, I went back to Dipulao, with Anthony Macanas, one of our in-house guides and a fellow BWC member.  We went to an area of the property near the Dipulao river. It was a difficult area to bird because it was "masukal".  Difficult to take photos also due to the poor lighting.  We did see few additions to my BY2014 list.  I also managed to get a docu shot of a Grey Streaked Flycatcher, or "Tuldikan" in Cuyonon.
Grey Streaked Flycatcher, "Tuldikan" in Cuyonon

Anthony and I decided to go back to the area of the giant bamboo and stake out the Malkoha again (I wanted a better shot than the one I got in Capayas).  But again, it was a no show.  Instead, I saw this big spider. 

After waiting a few more minutes for the Malkoha, we decided to go back to town.  At this point I was feeling so happy because per my count, my BY2014 total was already almost 50 species and it was only the middle of the month. Not bad...


  1. Awesome shots!!!!! I have to see that Chestnut Breasted Malkoha next time I visit Coron! =)

    1. Maia, hindi tayo titigil hanggang di natin nalitratuhan ang Malkoha...

  2. Nice! Especially the 2 kingfishers! I'm looking forward to reading more about your BY2014 birds!